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Old 04-23-2019, 02:00 AM   #1
Fingers mcginty
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Default Acoustic guitar and vocal mix....to compress or not?

Hi Folks, I'm just recording my vocals and acoustic guitar recorded individually. My voice sounds fine compressed but the acoustic sounds lifeless when it is compressed. Is compression always needed on acoustic guitar or could I leave it out completely on the acoustic? Just a little EQ ?
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Old 04-23-2019, 02:51 AM   #2
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Do what sounds good to you. That's the only way to do it. If you don't feel the compression on the guitar, just leave it off. There are no quick and fast rules in mixing, despite what some people try to tell you. Trust your ears.
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Old 04-23-2019, 03:00 AM   #3
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+1. And if you needed even more professional endorsement of this see Adam Neely's answer here at 11.25.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vDoPRaND_3k
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Old 04-23-2019, 03:59 AM   #4
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Quote:
s compression always needed on acoustic guitar or could I leave it out completely on the acoustic?
There's no rule. Do what the sound need

And, there are tons of compression type/style/treaking that can sounds either obvious or transparent

I always start with a vca or fet style comp with fast attack/fast release with low ratio (2-4 :1) and 3-4db of reduction on acoustic guitar, just to control the peaks

Sometimes, it's enough, sometimes, not . It depends on the context
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Old 04-23-2019, 04:38 AM   #5
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compression is for kids

https://youtu.be/3FHRPzHvChU?t=957
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Old 04-23-2019, 11:28 AM   #6
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When you play and sing live there is no compression.


I like to start with the idealistic (usually unrealistic) philosophy that a good recording doesn't need any effects or processing...


However, virtually all commercial recordings are compressed and acoustic guitar & vocal are "quiet" to begin with so without compression your recording won't be as "loud" as commercially-produced music.


That's probably OK. If you don't need the "loudness" and you don't want the "sound of compression", you don't have to use it...


A professional mixing/mastering engineer has more skill & experience. They know which compressor/limiter to use and what settings to use, so they can usually get more compression/loudness with less "damage" than us amateurs.
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Old 04-23-2019, 11:40 AM   #7
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When you play and sing live there is no compression
.

yes, but your audience dont listen To you with their ears at 1 inch from your guitar

air is the best compressor

grab a mic, place it at 1 inch from you guitar and record

then, place the Mike at 10 feet and rerecord

the dynamic will be very different


the problem : with Mike at 10 feet, you'll hear a lot of room reflections

so, in a perfect acoustic environment, you can choose to record far field but having this kind of space is very very expensive

so you have to record close field and so, your takes will have an over represented dynamic

same for vocals
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Old 04-23-2019, 12:22 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fingers mcginty View Post
but the acoustic sounds lifeless when it is compressed.
Then the guitar is overcompressed. I can "compress" an acoustic guitar and receive benefit and you'd never know or think it was compressed. I say it that way because we tend to lump things into broad buckets. Just shaving 1dB that kicks in every so often for example, is technically compressed. I almost always put a limiter on my mixes, and it might be limiting .5 dB 30 times in the song and that's it, it's limited but outside the definition most people consider when they say "I never put a limiter on my mix" - see where I'm going with this? Theres a chance there are places/instances where the compressor should kick in but 'always compressing' is NOT the only way to think about compression IMHO.

That said, AC guitar like anything is a case-by-case, need-by-need basis. If one is strumming fairly evenly with a consistent touch as an example, there isn't anything to compress. You used your ears to decide what you did compression wise, it didn't sound good, follow that instinct.

Last edited by karbomusic; 04-23-2019 at 12:27 PM.
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Old 04-23-2019, 12:46 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fingers mcginty View Post
Hi Folks, I'm just recording my vocals and acoustic guitar recorded individually. My voice sounds fine compressed but the acoustic sounds lifeless when it is compressed. Is compression always needed on acoustic guitar or could I leave it out completely on the acoustic? Just a little EQ ?
There are two things that might lead you to compressing something.
Either you're hitting overs with peaks when you have the "meat" of the signal turned up where you want to hear it. Or perhaps you want to hear an artifact of compression in the form of that pumped up 'rock n roll' kind of sound. The fat and pumping/breathing kind of sound you get from slamming a compressor which has become a thing.

If you aren't after either of those...
Then why did you insert a compressor? ... would be my question.

If you have a sound you like with natural dynamics and you aren't lighting up red lights with overs, then I'd suggest compression is not what you were after.

Maybe it's a little complicated...
Do you have a good sound with your (presumably) better studio monitors but something sounds to thin or far away when listening in the car? But then trying to compress it just steps on it and does more harm than good?

If so, maybe try parallel compression. Make a parallel track and slam it to taste. Blend the compressed with the raw. You should be able to preserve the pristine dynamics and sparkle while getting a boost in the "meat" of the sound so it sounds proper on smaller or compromised systems like a car stereo.

Last edited by serr; 04-23-2019 at 12:52 PM.
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Old 04-23-2019, 01:26 PM   #10
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OK here is my recording without any compression on the individual acoustic tracks.
I quite like the way it turned out but alas I havene't much of a clue when it comes to mixing and levels. Please critique

https://soundcloud.com/tommyhayes/ba...wn-the-hatches
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Old 04-23-2019, 03:18 PM   #11
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As far as compression etc. I don't really hear anything wrong.
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Old 04-23-2019, 03:24 PM   #12
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I tried compression and used the wrong vst's before I found the right ones.
I have settled into using manual volume automation and those few compressors who let the magic through more than others. As others say you have to try out those VST's to get the sound/effect you want.

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Old 04-25-2019, 01:11 AM   #13
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Firstly your recording sounded fine to me with a rather "live" feel to it if that makes sense. For comparison I listened to Jansch's "Strolling down the Highway" that was recorded very simply. Not exactly the same sound and I have no idea if compressors were involved in the original recording (probably not?) or later.
In any event the spirit of the music was clear and the recording felt right for that. (Interesting guitar by the way, only played one briefly myself but this was a good choice for this piece I think.)
Finally this may be of interest. Especially in the light of "Compression is for kids" argument!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RfHA4OPfoi8
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Old 04-25-2019, 06:27 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by martifingers View Post
Finally this may be of interest. Especially in the light of "Compression is for kids" argument!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RfHA4OPfoi8

Definitely a nice counter point to Mr. Swedien's point of view which, I think, is a bit misleading. What I took from the Pensado video is that Swedien's gripe with compression is that it kills the transients.

Hmmm.... The Swedien/Pensado video is an hour long so I may have missed it, but I don't recall any mention of parallel compression techniques that don't kill transients at all. And, of course, what is the attack knob used for?

I think Swedien is really beefing about the loudness wars in which all dynamics (and, therefore, transients) are squashed to death.
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Old 04-25-2019, 06:44 AM   #15
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Definitely a nice counter point to Mr. Swedien's point of view which, I think, is a bit misleading. What I took from the Pensado video is that Swedien's gripe with compression is that it kills the transients.

Hmmm.... The Swedien/Pensado video is an hour long so I may have missed it, but I don't recall any mention of parallel compression techniques that don't kill transients at all. And, of course, what is the attack knob used for?

I think Swedien is really beefing about the loudness wars in which all dynamics (and, therefore, transients) are squashed to death.
You are correct. His main reason for not compressing is to preserve the transients which he considers to be the most important part of a mix and as he terms at the Primitive part that we respond to. When I listen to Michael Jackson's off the wall and Thriller albums I tend to agree. Everything on those albums is just so clear and great sounding in my opinion
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Old 04-26-2019, 09:53 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by martifingers View Post
Firstly your recording sounded fine to me with a rather "live" feel to it
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RfHA4OPfoi8
The room I record in unfortunately is not the best. It's a smallish room with a wooden floor. Think that's what I need to address first and foremost.
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Old 04-26-2019, 10:24 AM   #17
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And, of course, what is the attack knob used for?
This alludes to the same subject I eluded to before. Compression != to squashing all the time nor = to killing transients, one CAN do that but good use of a compressor doesn't always do either and compressors in general resent such broad-brush statements about them since they are meant to be "adjusted".
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Old 04-26-2019, 10:49 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by martifingers View Post
Firstly your recording sounded fine to me with a rather "live" feel to it
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RfHA4OPfoi8
The room I record in unfortunately is not the best. It's a smallish room with a wooden floor. Think that's what I need to address first and foremost.
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Old 04-27-2019, 02:37 AM   #19
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Use a clean eq I was using a Fab Filter eq 2 today on Acoustic this does not cloud.
Must nbe a few out there just try them.

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Old 04-27-2019, 07:13 PM   #20
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Try this I did today I always meant to try these plugins
I reckon this would really work for you and it is free
I may purchase the Gentleman's edition I think it is that good the free one I mean.
TDR VOS SlickEQ

https://www.tokyodawn.net/tdr-vos-slickeq/

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Old 04-29-2019, 01:14 PM   #21
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Definitely a nice counter point to Mr. Swedien's point of view which, I think, is a bit misleading. What I took from the Pensado video is that Swedien's gripe with compression is that it kills the transients.

Hmmm.... The Swedien/Pensado video is an hour long so I may have missed it, but I don't recall any mention of parallel compression techniques that don't kill transients at all. And, of course, what is the attack knob used for?
.
Parallel compression opens up such a world if you haven't explored it. And Reaper spoils us because we don't care if a developer puts a mix knob on a plugin, we get the dry/wet knob on every fx. I'm personally fairly hooked on it. Instead of using a very conservative ratio on a first dynamics slot you can go to a higher ratio, hit it a tad harder and drop it to 50/50 dry/wet, and play with all of those parameters, and find a really nice area where you get a bit of dynamics control and still nearly retain the "sound" of an uncompressed instrument, if you desire. I would say that the parallel technique is very much an option worthy of exploring for letting transients come through.
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Old 04-29-2019, 02:06 PM   #22
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OK here is my recording without any compression on the individual acoustic tracks.
Well done. The guitar sounds natural and expressive. IME, on acoustic guitar compression tends to diminish those qualities. Kudos for re-doing it this way.

Quote:
I quite like the way it turned out but alas I havene't much of a clue when it comes to mixing and levels. Please critique

https://soundcloud.com/tommyhayes/ba...wn-the-hatches
A good listen. The balance between guitar and voice sounds fine to me.
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Old 04-29-2019, 02:29 PM   #23
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IIRC/FWIW 50/50 mix = 1/2 the compression ratio, there's a thread on it here somewhere but it is old.
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Old 05-02-2019, 09:48 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by karbomusic View Post
IIRC/FWIW 50/50 mix = 1/2 the compression ratio, there's a thread on it here somewhere but it is old.
True, but with parallel compression you can use an exaggerated setting, grabby, immediate release, huge ratio, that has a crazy, in-your-face sound, and bring it down in the balance with the dry, and I'm not sure of you really can attain the same result by backing off the ratio and adjusting the rest. The violence of being grabbed hard and shaken and brought back in the balance I don't think is really matched if you cut the violence in half, so to speak.

Either way, I like the way you can creep the balance if its too much or not enough instead of changing the ratio or threshold.
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Old 05-02-2019, 10:04 AM   #25
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Parallel compression is like compressing from the bottom up of the dynamic range instead of from the top down.

I think it would only cancel out and be 1:1 identical if the compressors both had identical settings.

If I'm fooling myself with a logical fallacy... well, there ya go then.

If nothing else, one of the things I like about parallel work in general (compression or whatever it might be) is the ability to mute the additional channel(s) in an instant to compare something against the original without having to open plugin windows and start hitting bypass buttons.
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Old 05-06-2019, 08:15 AM   #26
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Parallel compression is like compressing from the bottom up of the dynamic range instead of from the top down.
Yep, it's *similar* to upward compression, but with less noise penalty. It's not the same as downward compression however you fiddle with the time constants, since it messes less with transients (in proportion to the mix ratio, I suppose).

A good read here:
https://www.soundonsound.com/techniq...el-compression
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